Chocolate Peanut Butter {Healthy} Goodness

Fellow snack lovers- listen up! It’s not very often that chocolate, peanut butter and healthy all go together in the same sentence…but in this case, it’s true! Since I love food and eating but I also love “heathy”, I’m always on the look out for sneaky ways to make guilt-free, yet yummy snacks. 

Ya gotta love social media. Thanks to Facebook, I came across a few snack recipes recently that are both delicious and good for you. The latest one is a bit of chocolate peanut butter goodness called Energy Balls. This is the perfect go-to snack to have lying around for those times when you’re on the run but need a quick bite or when you’re in-between meals and need a little somethin’ somethin’ but don’t want to over-indulge. I’ve also found that they make a great pre- or post-workout snack. The best part may be that they don’t need any baking- they are really very simple to make!

Here’s the recipe:


1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup old fashioned raw oats
2/3 cup shredded toasted coconut
1/2 cup ground golden flaxseed
1/3 cup chia seeds
6 Tbsp dark chocolate chips

Stir together all of the ingredients and refrigerate for 20 min, then roll into 1 inch balls and enjoy!

Tips I picked up from making these: 

-I’ve substituted almond meal for flaxseed.

-Slightly damp hands makes rolling into balls much easier.
-I store these in the fridge but the freezer works too.
-Use all organic ingredients if you can, but not necessary.
-Don’t eat these while on a date. Those darn chia seeds get stuck in your teeth! 

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Let me know what you think and please pass along any healthy recipes that you love!

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Icing on the {Home Decorating} Cake

You would think that after choosing the right fabrics for my dining room chairs and the right fabric for curtains (a painstaking process btw), the right paint on the walls and a chandelier, that my dining room decorating would be finished, right? Well, for those of you who have decorated before, it doesn’t stop there. Actually, I’ve been told that decorating never, ever stops… but I digress.

While I love to be totally finished with a project, I felt that my dining room still needed something more. I thought about painting an accent wall but due to the configuration of my room (doorways on three of the four walls and a large window which takes up most of the fourth wall), it wouldn’t have the desired effect. I contemplated painting the ceiling instead. While I don’t take a lot of decorating risks, or a lot of risks in general, the painted ceiling idea intrigued me. Although it was taking me out of my comfort zone, I knew I could always repaint it if it didn’t work so it was a pretty “safe” risk.

I called Steve Bufalo of Bufalo Decorating to help me out. Steve came highly recommended but I had some reservations about painting the ceiling in general, so we set up a consult. We met and discussed various options (painting a wall vs a ceiling vs wall paper vs different finishes) and after our conversation, I felt much more informed and confident that we were going in the right direction for my room. 

As far as color, I wanted to make a statement, yet not too much of a statement- you know what I’m talking about. We’ve all walked into rooms before and thought, “Oh wow” and then immediately thought “Oh no.” I had to make the right color choice. I consulted with Kathy Daab- a talented graphic designer/interior decorater from KD Design who has helped me out in the past. Kathy narrowed down my choices to just two (thankfully or, left to my own devices, I would still be debating.) 

Here is my previously {somewhat} boring white ceiling and white molding:

Here’s my new ceiling against the white molding:

Here’s another pic so you can get an idea of the room’s color scheme:

It took me a little time to adjust to the painted ceiling. Steve graciously offered to re-paint it a different color if I didn’t like it. But after a day or two, and many compliments later, I was happy with my decision. It gave my dining room just the right touch that it needed; sort of like icing on a cake. 

Steve Bufalo was very easy to work with. He showed up on time, was very professional, competitively priced and did beautiful, precise work. I was equally happy with Kathy Daab. She clearly knows her stuff and makes sure that what she advises is right for me. Choosing talented and easy-to-work-with people really makes a difference on any project!

Now, I sit literally staring at the ceiling… womp womp… planning the next decorating task to tackle. Stay tuned…

If you need painting or decorating help, you can reach Steve Bufalo at 516-628-2137 and Kathy Daab at 516-205-5003 or

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Couture and Confections {at the Garden City Hotel}

Wedding season is fast-approaching and the Garden City Hotel kicked off its first ever Wedding Week this week! Inside Garden City was thrilled to attend Couture and Confections on Tuesday night to get a peek into what’s happening inside the world of weddings!

I like to think of the Hotel’s Wedding Week as a “little black book” of bridal. The moment guests walked through the door at Couture and Confections, gorgeous wedding ideas were everywhere, from the fabulous gin-infused cocktail, aptly named the Blushing Bride, to the champagne cocktails topped with mini sorbet popsicles.

Delectable confections lined the walls- such as cake pops {the apple pie pops were adorbs}, as wells mini trifles and cheesecakes.

Beautiful Vera Wang couture gowns adorned the room. Check these out: 

The highlight of the night was the expert panel made up of Long Island’s Favorite Newlywed Elisa DiStefano, celebrity event planner Michael Russo of Michael Russo Events {and host of Mikie Saves the Date}, Sania Recupero General Manager of the Wedding Salon of Manhasset, Erica Arkin Senior VP at Vera Wang Bridal, fitness expert Stacy Montafis and Red Door Spas.

These experts had lots of hot tips for brides-to-be and here are some highlights from each:

If you’re newly engaged, tops on your wedding to-do list may be to book the perfect venue or start your search for “the dress.” According to Michael Russo, the first step should be to have your guest list in check and then find a venue that can accommodate your list so you don’t end up having to cut guests. Another great tip from Michael on choosing a venue was that brides should feel that “they want to accessorize a room, not transform it.” Sania Recupero of the Wedding Salon of Manhasset recommended having a year to order and fit your dress but assured brides that her staff can handle much smaller time frames. She also noted that the bride sets a theme with her dress, so have an idea of what you are going for before you shop, but try on all styles. Elisa DiStefano, the panel’s moderator, recommends having days when you don’t talk to your partner about the wedding at all.

Erica Arkin from Vera Wang Bridal suggests that brides make a mood board to help them focus on what they like. She also smartly advises brides to get a swatch from their dye lot to match other things accordingly because “every white isn’t the same and every ivory isn’t the same.” Stacy Montafis gave great fitness recommendations when she advised to “start your diet and workout plan early, have a support system and eliminate hater friends.” She also recommends setting a goal by asking yourself “what do you want to hide and what do you want to accentuate?” Lastly, every bride knows the importance of a good skincare regimen before the big day. Red Door Spa recommends starting spa skincare treatments when you find your dress and hair conditioning treatments, like Keratin, six months prior to the big day.

The first event “Show Off Your Wedding Ring” treated brides to a bridal makeup consultation and bridal gift bag on Monday. The last event, “Weddings on 7th: A Luxury Showcase” was scheduled for Thursday night, 3/5, but considering the weather conditions {snow and more snow}, it’s been rescheduled. But don’t miss it! The Hotel plans to transform its ballroom into four different and fabulous weddings- another great addition to that “little black book” of bridal- with just about everything you’ll need to plan the big day: top florists, music, event planners, bridal gowns and more. Plus, enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Happy planning!

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Nutella Nirvana {Recipes}

If you’re on a diet, this is your warning to stop reading now.

As some of you may know, I’ve been on a serious Nutella kick lately. Perhaps it’s because World Nutella Day just passed on February 5th (am I the only one who thinks Feb. 5th should be a national holiday?) or because I discovered that Costco sells giant size jars (in a Costco style two pack of course). Regardless, the Nutella has been flowing in my kitchen lately and it’s been heavenly. Try these and report back. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Grease a 13×9″ glass baking dish.
  2. Using an electric mixer, combine sugars & vanilla with melted butter. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each egg.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, and baking powder.
  4. Add flour mixture slowly to the butter, sugar, and egg mixture. Mix well.
  5. In the microwave, heat Nutella until it thins out a bit (approximately 1 minute). Stir it well. Stir the softened, melted Nutella into the batter. then pour it into a prepared baking dish.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Grilled Nutella & Marshmallow Sandwiches:

This dessert has appropriately been referred to as the love child of s’mores and a grilled cheese.

Makes 2 sandwiches
4 slices soft white bread
2 tablespoons Nutella (or more, or less — depending on your taste!)
40 mini marshmallows*
2 tablespoons butter, divided
*You can also sub in 2 tablespoons (or more!) of marshmallow fluff.
1. Spread Nutella on two slices of bread, 1 tablespoon on each slice. Spread marshmallows out evenly on the other two slices, 20 on each each slice. Pair them together to make two sandwiches.
2. Heat a small skillet or grill pan over medium-low heat, then melt half a tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Put one sandwich in the skillet and cook until the underside is golden brown, about a minute and a half. Add another half a tablespoon of butter to the skillet, flip the sandwich and cook until both sides are golden brown and the marshmallows are melted, about a minute and a half. 

adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Makes approx. 2 1/2 dozen cookies
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Using an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until blended. Beat in the egg and egg yolk, one at a time. Then add in the vanilla and yogurt and mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill your dough and Nutella for 2 hours in the refrigerator, or overnight.

Preheat your oven to 350°. Once dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball. Make sure that the nutella is not seeping out of the dough. If necessary, use small bits of dough to plug the gaps.  Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and flatten, just slightly, with your hand VERY gently.

Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Sprinkle with sea salt right after they come out of the oven, and cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

I suggest making a batch and keeping them in the freezer for whenever someone pisses you off, breaks your heart or you just have a bad day. You know what I’m talking about. Remember, Nutella makes everything better!

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Get A Pouch!

We all know it but some of us continue to do it anyway. Texting and driving kills. Here are some frightening statistics from the FCC:

  • 3,328 people were killed and 421,000 people were injured in 2012 due to driver distraction according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Forty percent of all American teens say they have been in a car when the driver used a cell phone in a way that put people in danger.

Joe Salemi spoke with Inside Garden City today and told us what he is doing to stem the problem. Joe realized the danger of texting and driving and wanted to help. As a result, he created an “inexpensive product that everyone could afford and use.” 

His “I Love You” cell phone pouches make phones less accessible while driving, but they also add an extra element of guilt. When you give someone this pouch, you’re saying “I Love You. Please don’t text and drive”. That’s more effective than simply tucking your phone away. According to Joe, “If a little added guilt works, that’s fine”. Joe believes that when your spouse, friends or parents give the pouch to you, it weighs a little heavier on your conscience because someone is telling you how they feel about you. 

In addition to drivers having to deal with the annoying aftermath of a car accident (tickets, car repairs, insurance companies, etc), Joe points out that pedestrians aren’t safe from distracted drivers either. And he hopes to get yet another point across to parents- “If your teen is the distracted driver and causes an accident which results in loss of life, your child may end up in jail, not to mention the fact that they will have to live with this forever”.

The “I Love You” pouch is only $5. Purchase some today for your children, spouse, friends. Inside Garden City readers are entitled to a special discount. If you order between now and Valentine’s Day, when you purchase four pouches, you’ll get one free! And they’re pretty cute too if I do say so…

We can all work to stem this problem and PUT THE PHONE AWAY when we get into the car. Visit Joe’s website:

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16 Handles- Nicely Handled?

I popped into 16 Handles at 3 Nassau Blvd today. It was my third time there since it opened in the fall of 2014. For those who haven’t yet been, 16 Handles is a self-serve froyo shop with an emphasis on being “green”.

The location is very clean and bright. The bold colors really give it some kick. The staff is friendly and offers tastings of any flavor you’d like to try before committing to it with a big cup. One cool feature is the screens posted above the flavors which contain the nutritional information of each yogurt. That’s something they’ve got over TCBY. The froyo has been pretty good each time I’ve been and there’s a nice variety of toppings.

As I was on my way out, separating my trash from my recyclables (because the trash canisters are divided into separate trash and recycle sections), I noticed that the actual canister below was one big trash bin. In other words, it appears that 16 Handles is separating and recycling, but the reality is that it all goes into the same trash can underneath. This alone wouldn’t be a big catastrophe- many restaurants don’t recycle- but I’m not a fan of these deceptive trash bins. I spoke with an employee there who confirmed that they do not recycle, they just use the recycle bins.

Take a look next time you visit 16 Handles. Tsk Tsk.

Capo Ristorante to the {Thanksgiving} Rescue

Thanksgiving Day is a mere 4 days away. Considering that the weekend is coming to a close, it’s more like 3 days away. And since you really can’t count Thanksgiving Day as a preparation day because you’ll be at the GC Turkey Trot in the morning, you really have just two days left to prepare. Are you ready?

Ok, so maybe you’ve been dreading going to the grocery store to prepare for your Thanksgiving dinner like so many others. I’m not judging- hey, I’m one of the procrastinators too. But if you have been putting it off, I’m sure you have a good reason, like you want to avoid the crowded stores, the long lines, the feeling of chaos or the crowded stores. Or perhaps you didn’t really volunteer to host Thanksgiving dinner but instead someone {lovingly} volunteered you. Or maybe you just don’t enjoy cooking very much. Whatever the reason, I’ve got just the out… I mean reasonable solution… you’ve been looking for.

Capo Ristorante on Covert Ave has come to the rescue! They’ve prepared a great Thanksgiving catering menu at a really great price which serves 10-12 people. It’s filled with fantastic choices and will take all of the work out of Thanksgiving dinner for you. All you have to do is pop the bird in the oven (or the backyard fryer) and the rest is done. And you know how much I love the food at Capo- so I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Check out the menu below and call them at 516-216-5177 to place your order. You can thank me later : )

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Richen Up and You’ll be Golden {Salon Imperiale}

As the iced-coffee-drinking weather slowly turns into pumpkin-spiced-latte-sipping weather, it’s natural to want to change up your look a bit (along with your drink) into something more fall-esque.

Look no further for fabulous fall hair color in GC than Salon Imperiale, a local fave in nabe. Their incredible hair design and color specialists will get your locks in shape for flannel + leather boot season. Whether you have blonde, red, or brown hair, can’t every shade benefit from a little warming up for the cooler months?

I think the September chill is a reminder to get rid of that salty summer blonde. Gino of Salon Imperiale suggests trying some low lites for fall. Toning your hair by adding beautiful shades of carmel and honeybeige will give it more depth and dimension- sounds just about right for autumn, doesn’t it?

And if you’re a commitment-phobe like me, you can still dive head first into the autumn shades with no roots or regrowth to worry about. Gino promises that Goldwell’s Colorance gives hair shine, depth and richness with no visible dye line or roots because it gradually rinses out. How easy is that?

Now, Salon Imperiale is offering 10% off hair color when you mention Inside Garden City. Once again, a local business owner steps up and offers savings to our readers! 

Like it or not (I choose not), summer is over. So take advantage of this offer ladies to richen up your color… and you’ll be golden ; ) 

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Lisa Licari- A Nutritionist’s {Healthy} Eating Survival Guide

What a beautiful summer day to bring you some tips on healthy eating. I know that I occasionally fall off the wagon and need to improve my eating habits. Well, bathing suit season is upon us (who’s ready for the beautiful GC pool?), but who ever wants to diet?? No one! Nutritionist and Garden City resident Lisa Licari is here to help with some easy tips that will render dieting a thing of the past! 

Me when I think of dieting:
I was invited to write a post for Inside Garden City, so I thought I would introduce myself. I have to admit, I am probably not what you would think of as your typical “nutritionist”.  To start with, my two favorite foods are bacon and butter.  And anything chocolate. I also believe wine is one of the greatest inventions of man.  Thankfully, the last 2 foods, wine and chocolate, have some benefits that help me balance out the first two.  I include all foods in my diet as a true omnivore and embrace my Italian heritage.  Vegetarianism and low carb diets not only don’t work for me, they tend to make me very angry.  Despite all this, my health is excellent as per my doctor.  There is a way to make it all work!  Here are some basic tips:
1.  Don’t buy crap.  Food the way it came from the ground (or the cow) is always best.  The less processed, the better.  When buying packaged foods, read the ingredients.  If you don’t know what an ingredient is, you probably shouldn’t buy it or feed it to your family.  Check out Trader Joe’s if you haven’t already.  It has lots of great snacks with ingredients you can pronounce.
2.  Your eyes are ALWAYS bigger than your stomach.  Take your time with eating and portion control.  One helping is usually enough.  Choose treats that are REALLY worth it.  
3.  Listen to your mother- EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGETABLES- REALLY!  Low cal, fiber, antioxidants, etc.  When shopping, buy 4 kinds of fruit for variety, plan one veggie per night you are cooking at home, plus veggies to snack on with hummus or spinach dip, and lettuce and veggies for daily salad.  Do this to balance out the indulgences (fried foods, cured meats, eating out) and fill you up so you don’t overdo it.
4.  Fail to plan and you plan to fail- Know what you are going to eat for 3 meals and a snack for the upcoming week and shop accordingly.
5.  Love what God gave you- Garden City is full of beautiful people and they are all shapes and sizes.  Strive to be healthy, not to look like the girls in your Bunko group.  Exercise because it is fun and it is a way to show yourself you love YOU.  Give that gift to yourself and to your family.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email or post and I will be happy to answer.
Make a change.  For you.  For Good!
Lisa Licari, RDN, CDN, is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist.  Her private practice, Permanent Change Nutrition, is located in Garden City and she accepts most insurance plans.
Lisa Licari, RDN, CDN

Permanent Change Nutrition, PC

520 Franklin Ave, Suite L3

Garden City, NY 11530


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FENG SHUI ADVICE-Being a Helpful Person Matters…

InsideGardenCity has recently been opening up the IGC blogosphere to guest bloggers. If you haven’t read any of them yet, you probably should because they’re quite good. Today on the blog, Laura Cerrano of Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island is back with an inspiring and informative post. Read on and find out more about Ms. Cerrano at 

Emotional Feng Shui Insights
A powerful area on the Ba-gua map for Feng Shui that many tend to overlook is called “helpful People.” What does this mean? The area of Helpful people connects you to those who step into your life to help teach you lessons and offer guidance when needed.  Let that be family, friends, “strangers-earth angels” and more.  Yet, you too can be a helpful person and one simply way is by donating items and objects that you no longer need, use or love.
Another way to contribute to the flow of helpful people in others lives is by saying “thank you” and giving gratitude to those who have helped you during your life’s journey.
This week, I have made it a point to reach out to past teachers from my high school who I felt truly helped ignite a certain point of awakening during that period of time in my life.  In particular my guidance counselor/Softball coach and Art teacher.
Each had a different approach in how they helped me and what was interesting when I said thank you, they didn’t really understand how they helped. I knew how and wanted to share that insight and also show that how they treat students (people) really and truly does impact them in a positive way. So the message to them was to keep doing what they’re doing and encourage that continuation of being a helpful person because it matters.
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